03 Jun 2016 17:19 IST

‘MBA students should be groomed to suit industry requirements’

A third of admissions are from industry; and they share their experiences with the class, says Arindam Banik, Director, IMI Kolkata

“The success of Asian manufacturing can be explained by vertical integration with a strong supply chain. So we feel that any business model with an Asian flavour should be the precondition of success. Most of our courses are guided by Asian values and culture. And most of our research output is driven in that direction,” says Prof Arindam Banik, Director, International Management Institute, Kolkata, that was recently ranked 12th in the HRD Ministry’s B-school rankings.

This conviction stems from his rich and varied experience in both industry and academia, both in India and abroad, including stints with American Express Bank in Dhaka and teaching international finance at the University of West Indies, Barbados.

A firm believer in the rigour of focussed and relevant research, he has authored over a hundred academic articles on international economics and economic development for economics journals and also writes popular articles in several newspapers. Prof Banik is a consultant to several corporates and government institutions. In this interview with BL on Campus, he explains what is unique about the way they do things at IMI Kolkata, and what sets it apart from its peers. Excerpts from the interview:

In just five years, IMI Kolkata has made it to Rank 12 in the MHRD’s ranking of top B-schools in India. To what do you attribute this rapid progress?

Business schools in India, both in the government and private sectors, are in general considered teaching schools. They follow standard textbooks without sharing and discussing real aspects of a problem with their students. Quite interestingly, academic promotions are encouraged despite many distortions. In many cases, merit is denied and in some cases, it is ignored. A successful teacher in any business school should have basic competencies to procure and carry out externally funded consultancy and research projects and share that experience with the students.

We established IMI Delhi to encourage management and policy level research. It was a conscious decision because it was difficult to compete with government business schools in the Indian environment. They have the physical resources, but one cannot attract good faculty based on physical resources alone. For example, the most popular management journal in Asia is Global Business Review, a journal jointly published by IMI and Sage Publications. There are excellent government business schools but unfortunately, they are struggling to publish articles in reputed management journals.

We emphasise the research culture among our faculty, and have applied the same model in IMI Kolkata too. We encourage our faculty to write papers in benchmarked journals such as those covered in Scopus, Thomson Reuters and RePEc and financial incentives have been created for them. Though we are only five years old, but we have established excellent academic collaborations with reputed business schools in Asia, North America and Europe. Our faculty members have received immense exposure from these collaborations. These are some of the initiatives that have benefited IMI Kolkata.

Among the academic courses offered, what would you say is IMI Kolkata’s special area of strength?

We believe that the way business is done in Asia is different. The success of Asian manufacturing may be explained by vertical integration with a strong supply chain. Interestingly, most of the time, Western-style textbooks are irrelevant in the Indian context. So we feel that any business model with an Asian flavour should be the precondition for success. Most of our courses are guided by Asian values and culture. And most of our research output is driven in that direction.

What about the faculty’s calibre and qualifications? How do you ensure they are great teachers while staying abreast of industry developments and requirements?

We are selective here. We believe that a faculty member should have a doctoral-level degree with minimum of two to three years of industry exposure. It is now well accepted that a lecturer with a Ph.D degree has more analytical skills than an industry-driven faculty. It is easier to groom students with such a background.

We select faculty based on their Ph.D/FPM degree awarding institutions/universities and their publications in reputed benchmarked journals. Faculty members at IMI Kolkata follow a rigorous multidisciplinary research approach and engage in professional pedagogy and teaching. Their performance is reflected in our getting big research projects funded by industry and multilateral agencies on a competitive basis.

What kind of emphasis does IMI-K place on research? And what programmes does it offer?

Our experience says lecturers will only succeed in a business studies class if they share their experiences with the students. And such knowledge is better developed if the faculty member is engaged in research and consultancy. So we feel this should be the first priority. We have our own endowments. Our research committee is free to award research grants at any point to any member of the teaching staff. We feel that a minimum of 120 hours teaching load in an academic year is enough for permanent faculty. So they have adequate time to pursue research.

How good is IMI-K’s connect with industry, in terms of teaching tie-ups as well as internships, especially at a time when industry still says MBA graduates are not quite job-ready?

IMI is the first corporate-sponsored business school in India. Historically, we have enjoyed corporate patronage and support. In our school, 30 per cent of a particular course should come from industry. We invite these practitioners to share their own inputs. Ideally, an MBA/PGDM graduate should be groomed and trained in line with industry requirements.

Unfortunately, this aspect has become diluted for revenue considerations. In the process, more freshers are encouraged to take admission. It is possible to avoid such a situation if the sponsors are serious. There is a huge shortage of industry-oriented management faculty. Despite this, we try to create a corporate-friendly educational environment.

How has IMI Kolkata’s placement record been?

Since inception, IMI Kolkata has achieved a 100 per cent placement record. This time, we had the largest batch to ever sit for final placement. The recruitment process saw the participation of 55 companies.

Which international institutions does IMI-K collaborate with, and in what way?

Our key academic collaboration is in the form of faculty exchange, student exchange and research with the IAE-University of Tours, France, and is an important dimension of our international focus.

In addition, we have collaborations with Sichuan Academy of Social Sciences, Chengdu, China; Sichuan University, Chengdu, China; North-South University, Dhaka, Bangladesh; Emporia State University, US; University of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Kunming University of Science and Technology, China; ESC Rennes School of Business, France; Universite de Bordeaux, France; and the IDRAC Business School, France.